To Love & To Lead: Staff Discussions


Posted on Oct 30, 2019 by Mike McSpadden


The setting was midwestern America during the Depression, in an average town, with ordinary people, all looking to simply survive. A young boy enters a store and, in keeping with the times, asks the store owner if he can work for him that day.

“I can’t afford to hire anyone, son,” the owner says. “That’s okay,” the boy replies. “I’ll work for free.” The owner pauses for a minute, and the puts the lad to work. He works all day, doing odds and ends that free the owner up to focus on what few customers come through the door. At the end of the day, he thanks the young boy for his hard work, and tells him how much he wishes he could pay him. “Well, thank you,” the boy says. “If you’re hiring in the future, would you please think of me?” The owner promises to contact the boy if he ever has an opening, and the boy walks out the door, back to his house. The next morning, the boy wakes up, walks to a different store, and asks the owner if he can work for him that day.

“I can’t afford to hire anyone,” the owner answers. “That’s okay,” the boy says, smiling. “I’ll work for free.” On and on that pattern goes—each day the boy waking up, each day the boy offering to work for free in stores where no one is hiring. After a few weeks, the boy receives a call from one of the store owners. A part-time position has come available, and while it’s not much, the owner would like for the boy to take it. The boy agrees. Soon after, another store owner calls on the boy and offers him part-time work. The boy accepts, and he accepts again when a third store owner offers him a part-time job. During one of America’s worst economic periods, a time when able-bodied men couldn’t find or keep jobs, one midwestern boy somehow manages to secure not one, but three jobs to help keep his family afloat.

How’d he do it?

  • While so many around him were focused on the hardship of the Depression, the boy was looking at the opportunities the hardship afforded.

  • While others lamented there was no work to be found, the boy realized there was work to be had, if you were willing to do it for free.

  • While others felt trapped by the times, the boy understood they were really trapped by their thinking—and he freed himself by thinking differently from everyone else.

My friends, that’s the secret of all successful people—they think differently. They understand that as they think, so they are, and they make it a point to think successfully. I’ve taught this principle—good thinking is what sets successful people apart—for years, and the older I get, the more I appreciate how true that statement really is. There’s no substitute for good thinking. It’s one of the most overlooked essentials of all successful people. If you want to change your life, you must change your thinking, and I’ve spent years studying and practicing good thinking habits. In a world where even the slightest advantage can be a significant one, learning to think well might just be the most effective tool in your toolbox. That certainly was the case for the young boy I mentioned in the opening of this blog. His creative and unique thinking—and his willingness to think outside the box of circumstance and prevailing opinion—allowed him to thrive at a time when others struggled. It also allowed him to pass that legacy of successful thinking on to his children. How do I know that? Because that boy’s name is Melvin Maxwell. He’s my dad. And he has proven to me time and time again that the difference between successful and unsuccessful people is how they choose to think. - John Maxwell. 

According to Wayne Cordeiro in his book "Leading On Empty', we can choose to live 1 of 4 ways:

1. A life of Reaction - we just keep doing the same thing until we are forced to change.

2.  A life of Conformity - we live according to the crowd and popular opinion.

3.  A life of Independence - we live in an illusion of autonomy and think we are non-conformists.

4.  A life of Intentionality - we decide what is important and we make a daily effort to improve those priorities.

We can let others decide what is important to us or we can decide. We can let others control how we live or we can control it. We can cave in to peer pressure, social norms and the expectations of others or we can decide for ourselves what is important and then live accordingly. Every great Leader throughout history was willing to take risks, think outside the box, go against the flow and stick to the course of action in the face of adversity and criticism. Decide what matters and then live intentionally based on that decision.

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